Sen. Steve Daines blasted the White House on Friday for “virtue signaling” on climate change ahead of President Biden‘s appearance at the United Nations Climate Summit in Scotland.
Mr. Daines, a Montana Republican, penned a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen excoriating her recent decision to designate climate change as an “emerging threat” to U.S. financial stability. In his letter, a copy of which was obtained exclusively by The Washington Times, Mr. Daines said the move amounted to little more than “virtue signaling.”
“It is unclear to me that this decision was made based on sound evidence, and appears more likely to be politically motivated and virtue signaling,” wrote Mr. Daines. “More concerning to me is that you have stated that your report on this topic is just the ‘first step.’”
He went on to argue that although climate change presented a challenge to most countries, Mr. Biden‘s energy policies were the real threat to America’s “financial stability.”
“President Biden‘s policies designed explicitly to chill investment and financing of baseload energy, such as oil, natural gas and coal, threaten our energy security and will lead to unbearable increases to domestic energy costs,” wrote Mr. Daines.
The White House and Treasury did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Since taking office, Mr. Biden has pushed to make combating climate change a “whole of government agenda.” The president set the tone for his administration by rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and canceling the Keystone XL oil pipeline during his first days in office.
Following such early initiatives, Mr. Biden‘s environmental regulators have proposed wide-sweeping new rules on the fossil fuel industry. Overall, the White House has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% over the next decade.
Mr. Daines questions the logic of such actions when the U.S. has already made significant progress in curbing its emissions, especially when compared to geopolitical adversaries.
“What the Biden administration is not telling the American people is that thanks to American innovation, not regulation, the United States leads the world in absolute reduction of emissions. … Meanwhile, China’s emissions continue to rise,” wrote Mr. Daines.
He also noted that Mr. Biden seemed to be pushing contradictory policies. Mr. Daines noted that Mrs. Yellen and the White House economic team were trying to slow the rise of inflation but pushing policies that made energy costs more expensive. A similar contradiction existed between the White House‘s push to combat climate change, while simultaneously pushing Middle Eastern countries to pump more oil to lower gasoline prices.
“Is halting domestic energy production from the Keystone Pipeline while simultaneously asking OPEC to increase production … helpful for U.S. financial stability,” Mr. Daines asked in his letter to Mrs. Yellen.
The letter comes as Mr. Biden prepares to attend the U.N. climate change summit that opens Sunday in Scotland.
Administration allies say Mr. Biden wants to arrive at the summit with a major climate policy in place to showcase Washington’s commitment to combating global warming and to pressure other countries like China, Russia and India to offer bolder cuts.
Ahead of the trip, Mr. Biden scrambled to persuade House Democrats to back a slimmed-down $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate change bill. The proposal includes $555 billion for climate priorities such as electric vehicles, rooftop solar tax credits and a Civilian Climate Corps.
• Haris Alic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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